Baidu and Changsha, capital city of Hunan province, teamed up to build “an innovation model city of self-driving and cooperative vehicle-infrastructure” on Oct. 29.
“As Baidu has been working on artificial intelligence and self-driving for a long time, we want to accelerate the development of intelligent transportation and seize the initiative in global intelligence revolution with the help of Apollo, local government and other industries,” said Baidu president Ya-Qin Zhang.
Apollo, China’s largest open source autonomous driving platform developed by Baidu, will serve as the technological foundation. It has cooperated with about 130 partners to run tests in Beijing, Changsha and Silicon Valley.
The first autonomous taxis will do test runs in Changsha. The number of taxis is expected to reach 100 in 2019.
Apollo buses will also run on roads and areas that have been closed off and intelligent bus lines will be set up to upgrade intelligent public transportation.
Apart from vehicles, roads and other related facilities, such as road side units, will also be developed to provide autonomous driving services and intelligent transportation systems.
The test area opened in June in Xiangjiang New Zone of Changsha is now home to a dozen companies and have performed more than 130 tests, with various kinds of test locations, long test roads and a complete set of facilities.
“Xiangjiang New Zone is gathering some leading companies to promote intelligent connected vehicles as an intelligent system test area,” said Yingchun Zhang, a Changsha official.
China is stepping up its support for intelligent connected vehicles. In April, the Ministry of Transport and other authorities said that all provincial and city governments will have the authority to allow road-testing of autonomous vehicles in their areas starting from May. In Jan., the government said it wanted intelligent cars to account for half of China’s new vehicles by 2020.